It’s a Beautiful Day to Die.

Who would have such a thought on a gorgeous day like this?  Well…

For some odd reason I woke up this morning with a severe case of the I want to syndrome.  Immediately I started thinking of what I wanted, when I wanted it, and none of it was good!

Don’t want to work, I want to play.  And on it goes from there.

On any given day, at any time we can decide to go off track and be totally self-indulgent.  We can make ourselves discontent and miserable focusing on what we don’t have rather than appreciate what we do; see the bad and forget the good.  I was there.  That’s when it hit me.

I need to die.

I need to kill this “all about Barbie” thing right now.  I need to get over myself and get on with what I need to do, what I’m supposed to do. This girl…this attitude needs to be put down.  So I put her down.

Now, let’s go to work and get over ourselves.  🙂

“Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

Surely You Won’t Die…or will you?

I think of the garden scene a lot.  Adam and Eve in paradise – or the closest thing to it on earth.  Heaven on earth.  Adam and Eve walked with God and talked with Him enjoying His presence constantly.  Everything they needed was in the confines of that existence, which is exactly how God intended it to be, perhaps even for us!

In my mind, I see hundreds and hundreds of trees yielding every kind of fruit we can think of.  I believe the garden was the place of perfection and what we all want life to be – no want of any kind and need.  I think desire wasn’t even in their vocabulary yet until that one conversation changed everything (Genesis 3).

“Surely you will not die!” (Genesis 3:4).  In other words, “He’s a liar.  He just doesn’t want you be rival to Him.  He wants to control you!  He doesn’t want you to be truly happy! One piece won’t hurt! What difference will it really make?  Die?  Pff – you’re not gonna die. “ Sound familiar?  With all we have, with everything God has blessed us with and everything He’s allowed us to live through and experience (both good and bad), we can’t seem to get to the place where we’re content with that.  Some are in a state of constant want: “If I could just…if I had…I want…if only…”.

God didn’t tell them not to partake of the tree to be mean or controlling. He did that for their protection because He knew the harm that would come to them.  He knew it would change them and their relationship with Him…and it did.  The same principal is true for us.  He knows what sin will do to us and our relationship with the Father. The things He warns against are all wrapped in “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1st John 2:16 NASB).  The Bible is full of caution for our protection! It’s not that He wants you to be without what you think you want…He wants you to be without hurt, regret or shame.

Toying, flirting with, considering doing what we know we shouldn’t WILL kill us in more than one way.  It causes something in us to die and could cause pain all around us.  From some consequences we may never recover. Are you willing to risk it?  Do you want to die?

But Then, I Prayed.

I’m just not feelin’ it.  Early mornings and lots of effort will produce just what it did yesterday.  What’s the point? I think I won’t today.  But then I prayed and before I knew it, my feet were on the floor and the wonderful sounds of a brand new day welcomed me on.

I want what I want. What’s the harm?  No one will know.  I think I will…but then, I prayed and the strength to resist came; the want to, to please The One greater than myself gave me the will, I chose Him and the thought left my mind.

I want to be as mean to them as they are to me.  I want to act out of my rights, my justification – because after all, they gave me a reason to lash out so it’s all good…but then, I prayed and The Voice whispered, “greater love – because that’s how I love you…” immediately came to mind…so I chose love over hate.

It’s as simple as that.  It’s not easy, but it is that simple.  Who will I please today? It’s always a choice.  None can do it on our own strength – at least I can’t.  All the willpower and determination I can muster is never enough; sometimes when I want to choose right and do, I still act wrong. But then I pray – pray for the strength and the want to, to act out right, say right, be right…in His eyes.  Sometimes I think my morning time with Him will be enough to carry me through…then I find myself with another crossroad, another choice to make then I pray.

Let’s be conscious to choose first to pray, then to live in a manner that honors Him today, one incident at a time.

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for your yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Privilege Not Punishment!

How many prayers have you prayed that have either gone unanswered or been responded to with a no?  How many loved ones have you lost?  How many hardships have you suffered, how many losses have you endured?

How many times have you asked why? How many times have you watched others be blessed with what you’ve begged God for?  How many times have you felt that because of all the above you were being punished for something?

If we have any age on us at all, we’ve all been in those spots.  We tend to think because we’re told no, denied, abandoned, jobless, homeless, or without, we’re being punished.  Maybe we’re just not loved…or loved less…than our neighbors and friends.

This reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden when they had partaken of the forbidden fruit they hid from God.  Adam offered the timeless excuse…”we hid because we’re naked” (paraphrased).  God’s very wise, parent-like response makes me smile every time I read it:  “Who told you, you were naked?”! (Genesis 3:10-11). See, they had ALWAYS been without clothes, uncovered because they were in paradise – that was their normal then all of a sudden, everything (because of disobedience) changed.  They saw themselves as they really were.

Isn’t that the crux of our problem?  We know how we’ve lived, what we’ve done…we are well aware of what we deserve!  OR we think we’ve been so good (perhaps we have been) that we don’t deserve any bad.  For a time after my son got older and God healed him from a devastating brain injury, I thought I had survived the hardest thing in my life, I had taken my “turn” and that a life of peaches and cream was on my horizon.  How arrogant of me!

The things I’ve been through – at my own hand and at other’s – continue to show me that being in a tough, impossible, extremely painful place is a place of privilege and NOT punishment.  Through those times, I have been privileged to see more of God and cultivate a personal, foundational relationship with Him.  Was it fun?  NO.  A lot of times it still isn’t.  Would I choose to learn this way?  Are you kidding?  Apparently I have to grow and learn the hard way.

If you’re going through something devastating – don’t fall for the lie.  Yes some things we go through are consequences to our behavior but some things aren’t.  Believe God hasn’t left you and He’s not mad at you.  Believe He’s chosen you to allow you a place of privilege – a place where you can choose to get closer to Him. (Romans 8:28!)

Genesis 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.”

Make Your Own Beautiful

IMAG0790I hope I’ve learned a thing or two from this season of my life.  I sure wouldn’t want to repeat it.

When things are dark and ugly sometimes we have to dig deep to find the good.  Sometimes we instantly see it but more often than not we must wait.

One of the most recent lessons is becoming so precious to me. I looked for blessings and kind of expect people to make an ugly time in my life more palatable and easier to swallow.  (Is that you I hear laughing?) I didn’t realize it at first but now I see that in addition to very tough circumstances, my disappointment worked extremely hard to make me discontented.  Then I got it.

Sometimes it’s got to be just you and God.  No one else.  No resources.  No explanations.  No Band-Aids.  Just you and Him.  I think He brought me to that place to allow me the choice to be content with Him and only Him. When everything and everyone I looked to, to make me feel more secure and content – job, home, stuff, car, people, etc,…vanished,  “Barbie, will I be enough?”  was the reverberating question on my heart.

When life gets ugly that’s where the rubber meets the road. We’re left with both decisions and changes to make.  When all you see is ugly, we can choose to make our own pretty.  Staying content in a troubling and discontented world is very hard work!  That’s when we learn to appreciate what we have and make the most of it.

I took some hand-me-down vases, some Salvation Army plates and paints I already had to make these.  I made my own beautiful.  So many stories and devotionals…so many personal lessons from God have come through the process of making them.

Trust God through the process.  That’s what I’m learning.  Trust He’s making something beautiful in you and most often when He’s through with that part, what you’ve been through will serve at least two purposes:  1) to teach you something and, 2) to bless someone else!  In the meantime, work with Him to create your own beautiful.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:10

 

 

 

Not Good Enough

IMAG0767

Here is a picture of the designs I’ve made that are faulty in some way…at least to my eye.  I don’t feel they’re good enough to be put on something to go out to the public so instead of throwing them away I stuck them on my bedroom window.  Look how beautiful they are! I love it when light shines through that window and they pop.  Makes me smile every time!  Although I can look at each one of them and see my mistakes, they’re still beautiful.

Nobody is flawless.  Unfortunately, we make mistakes, we hurt those closest to us.  We have all kinds of scars and misconceptions about ourselves. If we let our imperfections take over; if we allow to believe the ugly things said about us (and those we say about ourselves) we can start to believe we’re of no good use, unlovable and unforgivable.

When I was little, I totally believed what I overheard some family members telling each other about me: “She’s not worth anything; she’ll never amount to anything” and for a long time I lived like I believed that, to the point of contemplating suicide.

At some point, we all – no matter what vile things we’ve done or how deeply we’ve been hurt – have to decide who we will believe and decide what kind of person we’ll be.  We all have a past; we all have regrets and wishes for better decisions and choices.  The good news is, all of it can be used for good. We ARE good enough – good enough for God to love, heal, cherish, and make us in to who He designed us to be in the first place.

Just like these “mess-ups” I put on the window, I could have thrown them away.  Instead I chose to repurpose them and look at the difference they make on an ordinary window!  The same is true for us.  You never know how God will use what we’ve been through, the pain we’ve suffered and the mistakes we’ve made unless we own up to them, ask forgiveness and choose to believe He can make us better than we were yesterday. With His touch, the possibilities are endless.

Not good enough?  Every time I feel that way, I’m going to look at this window.  Beautiful.  And very good!

“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31a

Unfinished

IMAG0752This is so me.  I have good reasons (?excuses) for not finishing this vase. I have lots of nerve damage in my hands as well as arthritis and I type for a living.  Some days, typing is all I can do.  Regardless, the vase is what it is: Unfinished.

Like the vase, we’re unfinished.  God created us for His good pleasure, for His reasons.  We all have specific purposes for our lives, the most grand of which is to know Him and live with Him in eternity.

Unlike this vase I’ve set aside meaning to finish it (which I will this weekend or that’s my plan), He doesn’t set us aside.  He knows we’re unfinished because He’s the Finisher! We won’t be complete until the day we see Him face to face in Glory.  Even when we’re veering away from Him and our destiny stuck in whatever we find ourselves in, He doesn’t glance our way and say, “I’ll pick her back up when she’s finished” and walk on.  Although we may feel incomplete and useless rest assured, He’s still with us, in us and all around us working on His masterpieces.

So I could get a picture of the vase’s incompleteness I stuffed a towel inside so you could see how unfinished it is.  I didn’t need to do that for me; I did that for the reader.  The same concept applies to God.  He knows where we need to be touched and He knows how to do it.  We fill ourselves with all kinds of things to feel accomplished, loved, accepted and complete and we keep stuffing.  God sees through all the fillers and if we let Him, He knows how to touch through all of them, too.

Yes, we’re all unfinished but He’s promised to complete us.  He’s constantly working through everything and everyone, the beautiful and the ugly to make us in to what (and who) He’s destined us to be.

I can pick this vase up and finish it any time I want because it’s mine and it’s accessible to me.  He can do the same with us.  Actually He can work on us and through us when we aren’t aware and when we are.  The vase has no control of when I’m going to work on it. We can choose to spend time, thought and prayer with Him, or in some cases He can work on us making us more of what He intends us to be without our permission.  We’re His!  Either way, Let Him work, trusting and believing no matter what, He’s creating something…someone beautiful.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6